tv C-SPAN2 Weekend CSPAN July 6, 2013 6:00am-7:01am EDT
for the book, and then i build a very large outline. i use the software and it is allowing me not only to have a map, but it is an index that tells me where everything is. when i finish the outline i write about a thousand words a day. and i can write pretty quickly. that is about the equivalent for the story. so if you just think 250,000 words, if you can fool yourself into that, you know, you have a book. knowing when to stop the research, knowing that you have a deadline to turn in the manuscript on someone, i think it's pretty important for getting it done. >> host: david in rochester.
>> caller: mr. atkinson, i would like to thank you for your great writing and great book on world war ii. i want to ask you a question that we talked about. in your opinion, to the care of post dramatic stress disorder or battle fatigue, what is the difference of care then versus today? >> guest: we have learned a lot about what was called shell shock. that was discredited in the terms that were adopted in world war ii. by the time that our involvement began and the earlier war had been forgotten, it is not just with respect to neuropsychiatric
issues. they are learning again and north africa and they learned that they are treating it in various ways, that it is more effective than others. many are showing signs of combat fatigue, exhaustion, combat exhaustion. they would tend to knock them out with barber poles of some sort. except for in the worst cases. where a soldier had really come unglued, they would try not to ship them too far to the rear. they wanted to keep them close to their units and help them preserve the links to the units. so all this went on. i think it's important to know that there were 900,000 american soldiers hospitalized for neuropsychiatric disorders.
it took an enormous toll. today you have to say that the treatment of the psp is pretty sophisticated. we learned a lot during world war ii. we did not have the diagnosis of dt st after world war ii. it is clear to me that there were hundreds or of thousands, maybe millions of soldiers who came home and suffered some experience of it in ways that we would now recognize. yet it was not diagnosed then. today they are much better at diagnosing this. they have destigmatize it, you have terrific care. better recognition. a top american general said, look, i recognize that i have symptoms of post-hermetic stress disorder and i need treatment. when a general sense, it allows the privates, sergeants, and
lieutenants to come forward and say this is not the end of my career. i think that we have come quite a ways in that regard. >> host: you're watching booktv on c-span2. the program is "in depth." rick atkinson is our guest. the last installation of "liberation trilogy" came out last month and it is called "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945". he writes that the u.s. stock market tumbled in anticipation of peace and corporate profit. >> guest: this is after the success that we finally have a normandy. the germans have bottled up the british, and polish and canadian soldiers there for weeks and weeks after june 6, at the invasion. at the end of july, we launched an operation called cobra area of the punches a hole in the german defensive lines and american forces have poured
through. on the left side, the british breakthrough in the germans have really no good place to defend we get to the german borders. we are pushing them across france. it is between normandy and paris and a lot of them get away. many of them get away. that there is a great feeling of elation. jubilation that they are on the run. what you find at home is the belief that, okay, it is all over the shouting and that the war is essentially part of the germans being defeated. and there are people that are making plans to celebrate
victory in europe day. in august and september of 1944, does not happen quickly as what others have hoped. the war is going to drag on until may. >> host: in paris in august of 1944. from your book, "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945", you talk about collaborators who have partnered. shorn women stripped to the waist, had swastikas pasted on their breasts and placards hanged around their necks. leave her alone, you are all collaborationist. the newspaper was resumed publication of a local newspaper. some 900 women and men would be arrested in the purge of whom 125,000 were forced to answer for their behavior during the
occupation. we have a caller from everett, washington. >> caller: thank you so much for taking my call. i'm please to speak with you. it turns out both of my questions have been answered already. so i would just like to say that i consider your description that you gave the normandy campaign itself, it was a comprehensive work and i'm grateful that you followed the priority of fdr first. i am disappointed to hear that you're not going to take your talent onto the pacific. my father and two uncles met their. and i had one article uncle in the new guinea campaign, the philippines, even before macarthur got there. my question on the italian
campaign, he did note that some of it was a senseless strategic cul-de-sac. so i still kind of get this. when rome was captured, there were a lot of divisions. so did in that more or less argued that the campaign continuing after that was unnecessary? >> guest: they do so much for your generous comments. thank you for that question. you know, i think there is possibility with what you say. there is some sense in capturing southern italy because there are very good airfields. if you want to hammer the
germans from not only england but also flying from italy and hitting oilfield and oil facilities and plants and all of the rest of the city's, having those makes some sense. as i suggested earlier, i think the further north you go, the less sense it makes. part of this is to type as many german divisions as you can. there are more than 20, including some good ones in italy. there are 20 divisions in normandy. i think there is justification with respect to that. you are absolutely not. after rome caused, the decision has already been made that there will be an invasion of southern france and it happens on august 15, 1944. it was delayed a couple of
months because of the shortages of landing craft and so on. we pulled some of our best units including several known divisions and the french pulled all of their forces. the french were as good as anybody and have the best field commanders. but charles de gaulle said that we have a country to liberate and i cannot justify having four or more french divisions fighting in italy when the opportunity is obtained through normandy or becomes part of southern france. the british are bitterly opposed to it. churchill is beside himself. he believes if you were going to invade someone else, fight your way up to the river valley.
you should invade through the head of the adriatic. i can't pronounce some of the names, but the americans basically put their foot down. churchill has to exceed the demands of eisenhower and it turns out that the forces in italy will be reduced. but the fighting continues in italy right until the beginning of may of 1945 partly in order to keep the german forces from publishing what they set out to. >> host: from your book, "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945", there was a cigarette shortage.
the u.s. army alone smoked more than a million packs a day in europe. a million packs a day in europe of cigarettes. >> guest: that is right, dwight eisenhower smoked more than his share. here is a guy that is looking for packs of cigarettes per day himself. so he had these habits. so you can take away the ammunition. but lord, don't take away the cigarettes. there was a serious shortage that had more to do with the shipping issues then natural physical shortage of cigarettes. the troops were riotous. this was a big problem for eisenhower. at one point he switched brands to a lesser, cheaper brand to show solidarity with the soldiers.
general patton was a cigar smoker. he gave up his cigars for a mile to show solidarity with the long-suffering troops. you know, it is part of the culture and you look back and think, what we doing to those guys come in no wonder they are short of breath as they are climbing the hills of the mountains were as they fight in december 1944. but it was a different age. that was part of an entitlement that a g.i. expected. >> host: was it hard to find a picture of eisenhower smoking? >> guest: know, there are quite a few pictures of him smoking a cigarette. >> host: we have a world war ii veteran in huntsville, alabama. thank you for calling.
>> caller: thank you for taking my question and comment. i'm a world war ii veteran. i'm 82 years old. i am concerned this. i'm wondering if mr. atkinson can get this message. the reason i think a lot of soldiers are committing suicide is because of money. because a lot of them, when they get discharged, some of their parents may even be dead then. they go to a city, they don't know anyone. so many of them do not have anywhere to go and all of that. so the army could do this, i am not sure about why it is taking
so long. i know that we have what they call 52-20. i lived with my older brother and i gave him $10 for my rent. he ended up with another $10 per week. >> host: nathanael, what was your question? mr. akin simmons was that your comments. where were you stationed in world war ii and what was your experience? >> caller: i am from los angeles, california. i was stationed east of france and also in germany for a short time. i was part of a 337 engineers, i was a truck ever. i would take the mps out of the airfield and then i was free to go to the red cross and play
ping-pong or whatever until it's time to pick them up. then i would pick them up and take them back to camp. >> host: thank you for calling in, sir. we appreciate it. >> guest: thank you for calling in. thank you for your service. we talked about a long story a couple of weeks ago of concern of anyone who cares about soldiers and the army and relationship with the military and the public. the suicide rate had been less than the general population. equal to or greater than. and soldiers leave the military, many do get certain benefit and many soldiers going that doesn't necessarily deal with the psychic scars you may have.
it was not uncommon. i do not have the number of suicides. but there were 291,000 deaths in world war ii. that difference included accidents and diseases and so on. the pentagon is taking it very seriously and there are effort to counsel soldiers as they get out. efforts that may commanders and noncommissioned officers were aware of suicidal symptoms and symptoms of depression and so on. i but i think you're absolutely right. you are taken out of that structured environment and you go off to school or looking for a job and it is not just the military needs worry about it. when you look at the aggregate numbers of unemployment among veterans and you see it is high in unemployment numbers, then
you know that there is something wrong about the way we are dealing with veterans in the way we are trying to help the veterans after they finish their service. >> host: back to your book, "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945". it is estimated that in december 1, 8000 american deserters roamed with another 10,000 british. the equivalent of a division of military people were often joining forces with local marketeers to peddle items from his own army trucks. hundreds of such vehicles vanish every day for $5000. >> guest: there was a lot of bad behavior. there is no doubt about it. it is important to recognize
that all the brothers were valiant. that is not how human nature works. whether you are you're in the army or out of the army. you know, there were 23,000 deserters in world war ii. thousands of court-martials for felonies and hundreds of thousands for part of this, part of it is common. there were many soldiers that were executed for murder or indoor rain. in europe during world war ii. french villages especially in normandy that protested violently the behavior of american soldiers and british. there were complaints from french generals that french women were afraid to go out at night without escorts because they were being accosted. this is all part of this. war makes good shoulders do bad
things. makes about soldiers do terrible things. it is part of the story of world war ii. >> host: brought to us from loma linda, california, we have roger. please go ahead with your call. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. i studied the psychology of survival. your comments are right on the money. i have read all three volumes and your work is not as good, but it is brilliant. at the command level montgomery
takes the cake. your descriptions of the political rigmarole is just, it is impeccable. i have to laugh sometimes possession for with what is ahead there. just commenting on how you personally felt about montgomery and have you ever thought about putting her political eyes unto the vietnam war? enqueue. >> guest: thank you, roger. thank you for your kind comments. there is no doubt about it, montgomery is a piece of work. your last question first, it is time for somebody to take a good look at vietnam and i think that you can believe that now 40 years after the fact, many veterans like roger are still alive. there are documents that
classify this for a long time and now it is unclassified. the time could be right for someone to take on vietnam. i think the best books are still out there. it won't be me. i am looking at revolution now. i can only do one at a time. so maybe vietnam in time. we will see. you know, i think it is important to recognize that i have a certain sympathy. he just has a very difficult childhood and he grows up in tasmania off the southern coast of tasmania and he has a mother and she is forever saying find out what he is doing and make them stop. you know, so then he is shipped off to the st. paul school in london to boarding school. he kind of has to make his own way. there is an emotional thing that
plays out in montgomery is a kind of self absorption. select ink do what we see with montgomery is a guy who is very much involved with himself and has poor social skills at recognizing how others see him. some say he really doesn't care, but he really just doesn't pick up the qc would hope that he would. is important to the british empire in the sense that churchill's government is on the ropes and north africa. it is not clear that the british army is going to survive in egypt. in 1942 he is sent to take over the army and he does win eighth signal victory and churchill is forever in his debt. so someone told church held that
he had been invited by montgomery to have lunch. and one of the official said officials said that i have dined with montgomery as well. eisenhower, you know, he had to deal with this guy from north africa. until they both at the end of 1943 prepare for the invasion in normandy. it is an even greater trial. this is why eisenhower is the supreme commander. part of being a politician is holding together a coalition against all of the forces that always pull it apart. eisenhower and montgomery almost all part been away from each other to the extent.
especially when he is able to finesse this somehow. >> host: where does charles de gaulle fit into this? >> well, there is another individual with a great ego. he was very good at dealing with the french. franklin roosevelt detested him. he thinks that he is a tyrant in the making. meaning that he does not want to acknowledge that he is in fact a legitimate head of free france. eisenhower sees that he has broad popular support. that is really the only guide you can deal with. he sees that he has a certain legitimacy.
again, charles de gaulle can be insufferable. but eisenhower is capable of turning the other cheek and basically harnessing charles de gaulle and his forces to common good. >> host: speaking of general eisenhower, this is from "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945". eisenhower was not much help. the supreme commander had proved indifferent in tunisia on sicily and during the planning. now he continued in that deficiency, watching passively for more than a week without recognizing or rectifying the shortcomings of his two chief lieutenants. >> guest: he is not a very good field marshal or battle captain. he does not view this spatially awaited great captains do like napoleon. he does not have the ability to dominate a battlefield. but that is not his job.
his job, as he defines it, is to be chairman of the board. so his job is to provide the bullets and bombs necessary to win the war. his job is to find the right man to lead other men in the dark of night, those who are the battlefield commanders and i think that he is quite brilliant. so i give him credit. i am willing to call a spade a spade. it is not intervene. he does not see that the germans are going to get away.
there are several occasions when he simply does not show the skills needed to qualify as a great captain. but that is okay. that is not his job. >> host: theodore roosevelt association. the question for you, mr. rick atkinson. what are your thoughts in your book? >> yes, i love writing about him. he is an extraordinary character. here is someone whose father is a 26 president. he spends most of his adult life trying to up to a father who is carved upon mount rushmore. he volunteers for world war i. he performs rather heroically. he is very accomplished. one of the founders of the american legion. he publishes books.
he is with doubleday. he's the governor general of the philippines and puerto rico and he is extraordinary. then world war ii comes around and he volunteers to go back into uniform. he is in his 50s at this point. at utah beach, he has been in north africa, the silly, he has been relieved of command, it breaks his heart. but he is given a second chance and he comes back and he recognizes that the landings are going badly. the navigation has pushed them off course. ..
>> guest: whose name is elen are fantastic. i hated to say good-bye to him when he dies. >> host: stormville, new york. good afternoon, howie. >> caller: hello, it's harry. >> host: hi, harry. >> caller: hello, rick. i've read two of your books, the first of the trilogy, and i'm well into the third, enjoying them. and i have two questions. the first one is about lloyd friedendahl, the commander of the second corps. the allies tried to cut off the germans from tunis, and they failed to do that in their rush
from the invasion area. they were in sort of disarray. they formed defensive positions. they had to defend quite a long front. now, then rommel launched his famous casserine pass which was a disaster, but frieden jdahl was replaced after that as commander of the second corps. bradley recommended his replacement. eisenhower had been pretty satisfied with him and said positive things about him up until then. and my question, i guess, here is do you think he was just a fall guy? and do you have any other insights? >> guest: well, thanks, harry. i think that friedendahl is the wrong man for the job, and i think he demonstrated that aptly. it took eisenhower a while to recognize that. eisenhower's feeling his way, and when a commander has been
sent to him by george marshall, the chief of staff -- who's not only eisenhower's superior, he's ten years older and eisenhower reveres him -- so when the chief of army ground forces send him out as effectively the senior combat leader for the u.s. army, eisenhower is going to take a while to recognize that this guy is not up to snuff. there were suspicions, eisenhower came to share them, that friedendahl may have been a physical coward. i don't know that that's true. i don't think the evidence is there to make that kind of really damning charge against him. there's after l evidence that -- ample evidence that he is not the guy to lead second corps. when casserine pass offensive begins in 1943, friedendahl is nearly paralyzed. he is 100 miles back from the
front, he has taken very precious engineering resources, they're digging a headquarters from the side of a quarry, the bottom of a quarry, they're towing this headquarters. when eisenhower sees this, he recognizes that friedendahl is not anywhere near the front, that he's showing signs of being afraid and that he's showing a kind of lethargy. so friedendahl is relieved. he's sent home -- he's given a third star, and he's given command of a training army in the united states. it's really the last time that eisenhower will be so benign in treating someone who's been relieved for cause. >> host: we're halfway through our program with rick atkinson this afternoon on booktv. now, if you are on hold, i promise, we're going to get to your phone calls, so just stick with us just for a few more minutes. promise. rick atkinson is the author of six books, "the long gray line," his first.
in 1989, "crusade." "the beginning of the liberation trilogy, the war in north africa," 2002. in the company of soldiers about the iraq war was in 2004. the day of battle is the second in the trilogy. the war in sicily in italy, and that came out in 2007. and his final volume in the trilogy, "the guns at last light: the war in western europe," came out last month. in 2003 c-span covered rick atkinson talking about the importance of war correspondence. here's what he had to say. >> it's really a matter of keeping faith. that's what it comes down to, ultimately, for me. the issue has come up recently. i consider myself a recovering journalist. i for four years have not worked in a newsroom. i write books full time now. i write books specifically about
world war ii, so i know a lot about war correspondents and their motivations. but the issue has come up again recently with the crisis of sorts in iraq, and i've found myself examining my own motivations and my own relationship to the military, my own relationship to journalism even as i consider myself an historian now. and decided some time a couple of months ago that if push comes to shove, i wanted to be part of it. so why is that? i just turned 50. my knees don't bend as well as they used to. i'm used to a comfortable life here in washington. i have two teenage kids. why do we do this? and i find, and i'm hoping, planning to deploy with the 101st airborne, that it's really part of my obligation to those who serve. and it's also part of my
obligation to those here at home to try to tell the story as both sean and joe said that's completely -- as completely and fairly as possible, to tell it as completely as you can in a way that honors the service of those who serve without being co-opted by the military. and there aren't a whole lot of people who can do that, believe it or not. trying to tow the fine line between being part of the institution of the military and representing -- even though no one elected us -- the interests of the larger republic falls on a fairly small group of people. and in this case, war correspondents. i think that's an important duty and an important responsibility. and i think it's, um, incumbent on those who are capable of doing it, who are willing to do
>> host: please go ahead. glrk thank you for taking my call. i was commanding officer of a gun boat -- >> host: you've got to turn down the volume on your tv, sir. just listen through the phone. >> caller: oh. i was commanding officer of a gun boat in the south pacific in world war ii and navigator for a transport squadron. in the middle east and north africa during korea. [laughter] so i have just finished manchester's third volume on churchill, and i wondered what your reaction was to that book. >> guest: thank you, russell. i don't have any reaction because i haven't read it yet. i read the first two and then, of course, manchester died before he could finish the third one, and know that with a co-writer that third one has come out, and it's generally been well received. but i've not gotten around to
reading it yet. i will. it's on my list. >> host: and the next call comes from guy in similar on, colorado. guy, you're on with rick atkinson. please go ahead. mr. >> caller: mr. atkinson, a pleasure to speak with you. i've read "the old breed," famous for its first person account of the horror faced by a marine corp. infantryman fighting in the pacific. i was quite moved by it. my question is can you recommend a similar book written by an american soldier who fought in the european theater? thank you. >> guest: well, you know, i rely on first person accounts that have been written by guys who were in europe and by journalists. i use journalists more than most historians because probably i
was one and, therefore, i have some sympathy, but they're also paid, they would all claim underpaid professional observers. and so i lean on them heavily and people that you know like ernie pyle but people you don't know in all probability like osmer white who was an australian journalist, wrote about new guinea but then was sent to cover the war in europe with patton's third army and wrote a really wonderful little book called "conquer or's road." so that's, you know, i have a list on the web site liberationtrilogy.com of books that i recommend both by historians but also some of the first person accounts. there's nothing quite like sledge's book that comes off the european theater. -- comes out of the european theater. there's some good personal accounts that have been written by soldiers at all levels, and there's some pretty good
memoirs. i think truscott's memoir -- he's a general, he's not at sledge's level, but it holds up pretty well. bradley wrote two memoirs, a soldier's story and a general's story. but there's nothing that quite has the resonance and grittiness of sledge's book. >> host: you mentioned ernie pyle. this is from the day of battle, and ernie pyle's featured in all of your books as well. this is ernie pyle writing about italy: i looked at it this way, if by having only a small army in italy we had been able to build up more powerful forces in england and if by sacrificing a few thousand lives that winter we would save a half a million lives in europe, if those things were true, then it was best as it was. i wasn't sure they were true. i only knew i had to look at it that way or else i couldn't bear to think of it at all. >> guest: yeah, that's
incredibly poignant, isn't it? and it's one of the reasons of ernie pyle's great power. you just feel that here's a guy who's baring his soul in a way that is unique. i found, i've lived with ernie pyle for the better part of 15 years, my admiration for him also only deepens. here's a guy from indiana who ends up in washington writing about aviation and things before the war, and then somewhat accidentally becomes a war correspondent. i think he'd written millions of words before the war began, and, of course, he's got the great knack of empathy, and his empathy is always with the grunt, with the enlisted man, with the infantryman. and he's often with them. he goes through hardship unlike very -- there are very few other correspondents who do it as intently or for as long as ernie pyle does. this is a guy in his 40s. he's no spring chicken. he's not a healthy man.
he drinks too much. he weighs maybe 100 pounds soaking wet. so he's not a robust character. and yet here he's living this awful life with other infan trimanmen -- infantrymen. and, of course, they love him for it. he's a beautiful writer. he writes so much there's inevitably some junk in there. he's got to feed the bulldog every day. but passages like that are so illuminating, and they're so touching, and they're so vibrant that i just find he leaves the european theater, he's had enough, he's falling apart. he's in paris for the liberation of paris, and he doesn't enjoy it at all because he is so seared by everything that he has seen and been through. he simply has lost the ability to enjoy life even, even those moments where he's participating in the liberation of paris. he goes and says good-bye to
omar bradley. everyone comments on how bad he looks. he comes home, he thinks he's through with the war. he ends understood in the pacific and -- he underup in the pacific and -- his grave at punch bowl in honolulu for everyone who finds themselves in hawaii -- i lived there as a kid -- i remember my father taking me to ernie pyle's grave, it's very, very moving even if you're 11 years old. and i think for us to remember the war, we ought to remember ernie pyle. >> host: you have another quote in "the guns at last light." ernie pyle at d day, either a letter home to his wife or whatever, but it's like if i f-ing hear the f-ing word f-ing again, it'll be too f-ing soon. [laughter] >> guest: yes, soldiers get on his nerves after a while. profan is one of the things --
profancy is one of things. anyone who's been around soldiers a lot, as i have, and he was certainly around them a lot more than i ever have been, but the intensity of that culture can -- particularly if you're older, you're a generation older as he was -- [laughter] it can cause you some sense of grievance. and he, he, there's this outcroix of, you know, i'm really tired of being around these guys, but i'm stuck with them now for the rest of the war. >> host: if you are a world war ii veteran and would like to talk with rick atkinson, 202-585-3882 is set aside for you. next call from martha in belgrade lakes, maine. hi, martha. >> caller: oh, hi, peter. thanks again for a wonderful three hours. it's an honor to talk to a journalist who writes history. i've become ensconced in my
history reading, and this summer i'm reading nathaniel fill brick's bunker hill. i still can't believe washington trained during the french and indian war and then ended up working with general gage, and when general washington was appointed for our american revolutionary war, here he is in boston, and washington's going into boston, and general gage is retreating to go to new york and south carolina with the american revolution. i'm just amazed at all of this. >> host: hey, martha, can you -- do you have a question, or did you just want to make that comment? >> caller: i want to ask about all these soldiers that are hesitant to fire the first shot. apparently at lexington there was this hesitancy, and it makes me think of fort sumter in the
civil war. nobody wants to fire the first shot. >> guest: well, you know, there are plenty of shots fired in world war ii. there was a book that was published after the war that estimated that a substantial number of soldiers in combat never fired any shots, that as many as i can't remember the figure precisely, but roughly 25% simply didn't fire their weapons because they were too frightened or cowed somehow or disrupted, didn't have the opportunity, they couldn't see the enemy. and, you know, that's a different kind of thing than you're talking about, but certainly in world war ii there's never a reluctance for the first shots to be fired once the war is well under way. i can't comment about lexington. i'm a reader of lexington, but i'm not a historian yet of that period.
>> host: tony is in san diego. hi, tony. >> caller: mr. atkinson, i enjoyed "the long gray line" so much that it actually inspired me to go on to the military academy, and i thank you for that. with that being said, i'd just like to make the comment about what that gentleman who fought at iwo jima said about the service academies and abusing women. i just feel like the media isn't really doing a good job of covering the story. i went to the academy, as you know, and we sat through hundreds and hundreds of hours of sexual assault prevention. you know the rules about that place. we couldn't even sit on the same horizontal piece of furniture as a female cadet. and, i mean, we're talking about an environment that's so controlled and so rigid, i just don't know what more the academy can do. i mean, i think there's -- the media so eager to jump on this and say, oh, the academy is fostering an environment of sexual abuse, and it just doesn't ring true with any of my
experiences at the academy. >> guest: well, thanks for your call. i think it's not true for the overwhelming share of cadets or midshipmen. in "the washington post" today there's a story about a mother of a female mid shipman who alleges that she was raped by three other midshipmen, and it's appalling. and, you know, once is too often. it's not so say that it is rampant. it's not to say that most cadets, most soldiers, most midshipmen, most sailors don't recognize the right thing to do and wouldn't intervene given the opportunity to stop this sort of behavior. you know, it may be that the rigid controls at a place like west point are part of the problem in the long run, you know? certainly the class of 1966, for example, it's all male, a
hothouse environment that doesn't really allow in that time young 19, 20-year-old men to have what most of the rest of us would consider normal interactions with female students. and a wonder that -- a wonder that, you know, the attitudes that many cadets have aren't more distorted from that era. now, this is a different era. there have been women since the classes of 1980 at the academies, and the academy, certainly the academy and the culture of the academy has changed a hot about race and gender and so on. and i would never argue, and i don't think that anybody would argue that this is prepond rant, this bad behavior, but it's just incumbent on the nation to deal with this. in the 21st century, it's a different place when it comes to the role of women in our culture
including our institutional culture, places like the military academies. >> host: this is from bill ryan, an e-mail. i have always had an unanswered question about the d-day invasion. i know that there was plenty of pre-invasion intelligence covering all aspects of normandy, so i am perplexed that the allies were so unprepared for the hedge rows which which hindered their advance and increased their casualties. do you have any insights on this? >> guest: yeah. thanks for the good question. it is perplexing, isn't it? part of the issue is that so much attention is paid to getting across the beaches, and we see this in the earlier invasions in north africa and in sicily, at salerno, at enzio. the ball game is initially just to get a foothold, to get a beachhead. and consequently, there is short shrift given to what comes next.
in the case of normandy, yes, and i write about how there were studies that recognized that normandy, particularly the american part of the invasion sector, have this topographical oddity. the hedge rows have been built up over the centuries by farmers clearing fields and pushing rocks and debris into walls, essentially, and from those walls grow vines and trees, and they're virtually impenetrable. those have been in south pacific at guadalcanal and places that were reminded of the south pacific. even though there was a knowledge of this kind of terrain that they were going to encounter, there had not been sufficient thinking by those who should have been thinking about it of how we're going to get through it and how this is going to complicate our lives and how it's a nasty place to fight. omar bradley, for example, says that he was vaguely aware of it
but couldn't begin to imagine how bad it was going to be. well, that's a failure of bradley's intelligence and his imagination. he should have been aware of it. there were studies that were done that were presented to omar bradley and the other senior commanders saying, look, this is going to be unlike anything that you've seen before. these aren't english hedges where they're neatly clipped and easily penetrated by tanks. these are fortresses, essentially. and to figure out exactly how we're going to deal with it is something that we need to be thinking about months before the invasion. well, it doesn't happen, and it really -- it didn't happen, and it really required a series of improvisations by american soldiers to come up with ways of blasting through these hedge rows in a way that allowed them to fight on. >> host: here's a quote from general kiss l ring, a german general from "the day of battle," ever cheeky for a man who had lost both the battle and
the war would observe in september 1945 that anglo american commanders, quote: appeared bound to their fixed plans, opportunities to strike at my flanks were overlooked or disregarded, although german divisions of the highest fighting quality were tied down in italy at a time when they were urgently needed in the french coastal areas. >> guest: yeah. i mean, kesselring is writing this while he's in jail, and he's in jail for years -- [laughter] i admire him, he's one to have very finest german field commanders, but he is cheeky. it takes real chutzpah to be offering that kind of critique to a guy who's just thrashed you badly, captured you and imprisoned you. but there's a point that he's making, and that is opportunities were missed, and german generals were sometimes perplexed by the lack of
imagination by allied generals, and there's something too that. i mean, the point is this: there's been an argument going on for 70 years that when a german battalion or regiment, the germans tended to be tactically superior. so what? this is really not what global war is about. it's not about tactical competence at the small unit level. it's about a clash of systems. which system can produce the men and women capable of producing the logistics, the transportation, the material support? which system can produce the commanders that can affect -- that can affect victory on the battlefield. which system can design, transport, detonate an atomic bomb? the germans couldn't muster the wherewithal to cross the english channel which is 21 miles wide to invade england in 1940. the american armed forces are projecting power into the pacific, the atlantic, the
mediterranean, seven seas, the endless heavens. so that notion of tactical superiority by the germans is really, in my opinion, beside the point. >> host: were kesselring, rommel, were they committed nazis, or were they army men? >> guest: they were army men who for the most part were committed nazis, not in the sense of being party member per se, but certainly under the sway of the fuhrer and certainly willing to benefit from nazi ideology and, you know, rommel in southwest germany live inside a house that -- lived in a house that had been confiscated from a jewish family. he did not step in to stop the
deportation of jews. many of the survivors claim that they were simple soldiers following orders, that somehow they were segregated. this is false. and the german -- [inaudible] was very much a part of the death machine of the third like. and that's -- third reich. and that's why thos that is why people like this deep end up in prison. >> host: your watching the tv on c-span2. is power in the program, rich edson -- rick atkinson is our get. >> >> caller: thank you for your book. the purpose of my question is there seems to be this extraordinarily sustained, in the interests of world war ii growing up in the 30s i didn't see regarding the civil war
level of world war i and i wonder about your perspective as a journalist and historian what factors you attribute to the sustained interest. >> thanks for that question. it comes and cycles. there was an interest in the civil war, resurgence interests in the 89s. certainly we saw resurgent interest with the ken burns series and there is no shortage of history is coming out about lincoln and the civil war and so on so waves of that come along, in the case of world war ii, 70 years more less after the fact, i believe what we are seeing now, of the 16.1 million who are in uniform, 1.3 american veterans are still alive and they're dying at the rate of 800 and day. next year, 2014 the numberil